Mains Hall Manor in Poulton-le-Fylde is lovingly restored
PUBLISHED: 08:21 05 November 2012 | UPDATED: 19:57 01 July 2013
One of Lancashire's most important houses, said to have once welcomed George IV, has been lovingly restored. Emma Mayoh reports
When Adele and Roger Yeomans decided to turn Mains Hall into their family home, little did they know what treasures lurked beneath the 1950s plasterboard. As the couple tore away the false walls in this special building, they discovered original wattle and daub, oak panelling, priest holes and even royal connections.
It was home to the Hesketh family for 300 years as well as the Fitzherberts. It is believed that George IV, because of his secret marriage to Maria Fitzherbert, also visited the historic hall. Priests, including Cardinal Allen, also hid here on many occasions to escape the Protestant authorities during the Reformation and the estate has links with the monks of Cockersands Abbey who were granted right of passage here.
Roger, 58, bought the building in 1989 when it was being run as a bed and breakfast and restaurant. He took the business on but a devastating kitchen fire in 2002 made them rethink what they wanted to do with Mains Hall.
Adele said: The fire was bad but fortunately we did not lose the original features. As work started to get done I remember the builders telling me I had mud on my walls. They had never seen anything like it and wanted to plasterboard over it.
No way was that happening. I then went around every room systematically making little holes to see what was behind the walls. I couldnt believe we were finding all of the original wattle and daub. It was an amazing discovery.
The magnitude of the project would be overwhelming for some. But rather than shy away from the task Roger and Adele, both originally from Blackpool, spent almost five years gradually returning this grand old building to its original state. They made many interesting discoveries, including a secret chapel. In fact, Adele has learned so much she has written books on the subject.
She said: The first time Mains Hall is mentioned in history books is in reference to William Hesketh in 1536 and we think it would have been a medieval longhouse. But we also think there was a manor house on the site in the 1100s. The Heskeths lived here for 300 years; they are such a big part of the buildings history.
There is also some evidence that this manor granted passage to Cockersands Abbeys in the 11th century and it is also believed there were smugglers around at nearby Skippool Creek that used to cause havoc in the area.
Adele and Roger have not allowed builders to do all of the work. They both learned traditional skills to help restore Mains including redoing the wattle and daub minus the mucky stuff - and making their own hazel staves to support the walls. They also had 70 pallets of lime mortar transported for the exterior. Gradually, they turned 13 bedrooms into seven suites.
The pair enlisted the help of the Lancashire Archaeological Society and they also worked with Sothebys to try and date the panelling and antique furniture and sought advice from folklore experts after they discovered an item with runic symbols engraved on it in the windows.
Adele, 57, explained: The garden had been dug up and suddenly we came across hundreds of cockle shells. There were lots of them. We never got to the bottom of it but I think it could have been an old midden.
The wood with the runic symbols was found when work was being done on the windows. We sent it off to museums and professors. Some people thought it was a charm stick and there was talk of it having been a source of protection. There was just one and we still have it.
In a building of this age, youd expect some ghost stories. Mains Hall has its fair share. Several people have spotted a child sitting at the end of the bed in one of the rooms. There have also been former residents who have returned to look at the house who have helped fill in some of the history.
Adele said: A lady came to the door one day and said her great grandfather had bought the house in about 1912. He restored it and it had been derelict and she said it was him who was responsible for importing the panelling. Sothebys thought it was from the Jacobean period.
There was another lady who lived here in the 1940s, her mother was the housekeeper. She thought there were tunnels but weve never found them. She told us about previous owners and we think one is Arthur Hall who once owned theatres and cinemas in Blackpool and was part of the entertainment industry there. Its fascinating.
The couple, who also added on a new extension with kitchen and lounge, have recently decided to share their striking home with the public. Guests getting married at the Great Hall at Mains, the venue built by Roger and Adele in 2004, have the use of the house during the celebrations. It is also being used as a holiday let and sometimes for conferences.
Roger said: We have had a lot of enjoyment from this house and now we want to share it with other people and for them to appreciate it. We have enjoyed doing it and it is now time for someone else to reap the benefits.
We will never let go of this place though, it is far too special for us. Its important a building like this is protected because it is a part of Lancashires history.
Adele added: I do worry that when were no longer here. I will come back and haunt anyone who puts plasterboard on my timber walls!